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The Israel Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored by Beth El’s Am Yisrael Chai Committee. The series invites local and national (sometimes international) figures such as scholars, ambassadors, and political experts to discuss our connections to Israel and Israeli current events. Click on the name of a speaker below to see a video of their discussion.
Speakers are listed on this page in reverse chronological order, from most recent to oldest.
Saturday, February 23, 2019. Ambassador Dennis Ross visited Congregation Beth El during our 2019 Scholar-in-Residence weekend. Ross gave the d’var Torah during the Shabbat service and gave a talk later in the afternoon. Ross is an American diplomat and author. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sunday, April 15, 2018. Benny Morris is an Israeli historian. He was a professor of history in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Beersheba, Israel.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Marc Ginsberg Ginsberg has served as US ambassador to Morocco from 1994 to 1998; Deputy Senior Adviser to the President of the United States for Middle East Policy from 1978–1981; White House Liaison for the Department of State from 1977–1978; and Legislative Assistant to Senator Edward Kennedy from 1970–1977.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Ron Dermer is an American-born Israeli political consultant and diplomat who currently serves as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. He previously served as Israel’s economic envoy to the United States from 2005 to 2008, a position requiring him to give up his American citizenship, and subsequently served as senior adviser to current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for four years.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Congressman Jamie Raskin is an American author and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district since 2017. The district is located in Montgomery County and extends through rural Frederick County to the Pennsylvania border. Prior to his election to Congress, he was a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law, where he co-founded and directed of the LL.M. program on Law and Government and co-founded the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project.
Monday, April 3, 2017. Aaron David Miller is an American Middle East analyst, author, and negotiator. He is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy.
Along with the Israel Distinguished Speaker series, the Am Yisrael Chai Committee sponsors a variety of Israel programs.
To honor the memory of Judith Scolnic z”l, the Scolnic Institute committee planned a lecture to inaugurate the new semester of classes. Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic, son of Beth El’s Rabbi Samuel Scolnic z”l, and Judith Scolnic z”l, delivered a talk entitled Did Democratic Ideals Begin in Early Israel?
Tal, our wonderful shlicha for the past two years, reconnected with us via Zoom to discuss how Israelis are coping with COVID-19 and her own experiences and reflections since returning to Israel. Sponsored by the Am Yisrael Chai Committee.
Amir Tibon discusses his experience during the October 7, 2023 terrorist attack on Israel as a resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz